Daily Israel Report

Report: Syrian Unrest Spilling into Lebanon

Syrian tanks have made several hit-and-run incursions into Lebanon in recent days as Assad's anti-dissident crackdown shifts into high gear.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 10/5/2011, 12:15 AM

Syrian tanks entered the Bekaa border region of Arsal in on Tuesday and fired in the direction of an abandoned factory, Lebanon's National News Agency reported.

The agency said the tanks fired at a batteries factory in the area, thinking that armed men were hidden within the facilities.

Sources told The Daily Star the Syrian Army has made repeated hit-and-run incursions into Lebanon’s territory over the past three days.

On Sunday, Syrian Army tanks entered the same area and fired on local villagers, before returning back across the border.

Syria has massed thousands of troops along its border with northern Lebanon in recent weeks raising fears in Beirut the move may be a prelude to the first incursion since Syrian forces pulled out three years ago.

While opposition leaders from the March 14 opposition coalition and Future Bloc sharply condemned the incursions, Beirut itself has yet to officially comment.

Support for Assad's regime by the Hizbullah-dominated government of Prime Minister Nijab Mikati has been a sore point with voters in Lebanon who object to Syria's influence - and previous presence - in the country.

It has also hurt Hizbullah's standing as a populist movement and raised charges of hypocrisy for supporting an authoritarian regime, reportedly going so far as to send its fighters to help suppress dissident protests.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, who has put Hizbullah on notice over its refusal to disarm and disband its militias, said Monday that Assad's allies in Lebanon are getting nervous.

“Allies of the Syrian regime in Lebanon are in a state of nervousness to the point where they are now asking for dialogue,” Geagea said during a call with the annual conference of the LF party in North America.

“Syria’s allies feel that the regime is going to fall so they are trying to take all possible measures to protect themselves in case this happens. Consequently, everyone in Lebanon today is monitoring the events,” Geagea added.